By Nathan Dowdell, 2d20 System Developer
Conflicts and Combat, Part 1
In Star Trek Adventures, player characters often come into conflict with other people. Sometimes these conflicts can be resolved peacefully—which would be ideal for Starfleet officers, though less satisfying for Klingon warriors—but sometimes force is necessary for a group to achieve its goals. Starfleet recognizes the need for force to preserve life, while Klingon warriors seek out glorious conflict to test their prowess and their might.
In any kind of conflict, the order in which characters take action is strictly defined, to ensure that everyone—friend and foe alike—receives an opportunity to contribute and that nobody can easily act without someone else being able to respond. Play is broken down into rounds, and each character takes one turn during each round.
Typically, it’ll be one of the player characters given the first opportunity to act. As dynamic, decisive people, player characters are normally quick to act in a crisis. The gamemaster may overrule this if there’s an obvious reason for an NPC to take the first action (such as an ambush, or simply if it is an NPC starting the conflict). If there’s doubt either way, the PCs get the benefit of the doubt, but the gamemaster can spend Threat to have an NPC take the first turn.
Once you’ve completed your actions on your turn, your turn is over, and you choose who will take the next turn. When choosing who will act next, you have two options: pick one character from the opposing side of the conflict or spend 2 Momentum (or add 2 to Threat) to keep the initiative and pick one character from your own side… but each side may only keep the initiative once before they have to allow an opponent to take a turn.
Each character may take only a single turn in each round; you can’t pick someone to act who has already taken a turn in the current round. If you come to pick who acts next, and all your opponents have already taken a turn, you may pick an ally without spending Momentum or adding to Threat.
In this way, you can have one or two people on your side act before the enemy gets to act, at which time they can have one or two people act.
Taking Decisive Action
During your turn, you can perform a single task of your choosing. You can also perform one or more minor actions—you can perform one minor action for free, but each extra minor action costs 1 Momentum (or adds 1 to Threat).
Tasks cover the main activity of your turn: attacking, trying to negotiate, operating equipment, sprinting over longer distances, providing medical attention, and similar. The gamemaster may rule that some activities you wish to undertake would take too long to perform within a single turn; these may be impossible to attempt during a conflict, or they may be turned into extended tasks (discussed in another blog entry) where you work towards a larger goal over time. It is possible to perform a second task during a conflict, but this costs 2 Momentum (and adding 1 to the Difficulty of the task), one point of Determination, or another character granting you an action using the Direct task.
One helpful thing you can often do on your turn is Assist. Assisting another character was covered in a previous blog post, but in a conflict, choosing to Assist takes up your task. The Klingon Empire core rulebook introduced a change to this rule, allowing you to give up your turn in advance to assist someone (rather than having to wait until your turn to declare you’re assisting). This makes for smoother play and was developed over countless games teaching new players.
Minor actions cover supporting and incidental activities during your turn: moving short distances, aiming before an attack, picking up an item, dropping prone or standing up, making small preparations, and simple interactions with devices (pressing one or two buttons on a panel nearby). As noted, you can perform one of these minor actions for free, but you have the option to spend Momentum (or add to Threat) to take more than one minor action, such as if you wish to move and aim. Your choice of minor action won’t do much by itself, but it can mean the difference between success and failure on your task that turn.
If you’re playing a Starfleet officer, the Prepare minor action can be particularly important, as it allows you to choose a setting on a phaser before attacking. Against tough foes such as Borg or Jem’Hadar, it may be necessary to buy extra minor actions to Prepare while also aiming and/or moving at once.
Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep your frequencies open for additional STA development blogs on a wide variety of game-related topics in the coming months.